Thursday, May 14, 2009

The one about the budget

Instead of twittering away my thoughts and ideas and never get around to committing them to this blog, I'm taking a leaf out of the Blogging Amnesty inspired by Crazybrave and others and getting down my ideas, however short, about the federal Labor government's budget. And I'm going to pinch outrageously from others' thinking to do so. That's the original beauty of blogging, isn't it?

According to The Australia Institute's early budget analysis sent to subscribers of its email newsletter, the budget is 'all sizzle, no sausage'. They pretty much capture my thinking about it where they distill the the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the second Labor budget:
The good: Paid parental leave
The bad: More money for the fossil fuel industry than for the renewable industry
The ugly: Those who missed out—sole parents, the unemployed
I support the paid parental leave, but I want it rolled out sooner.

On the ugly side of the ledger, I'd add that there's no really significant spending to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. I'm increasingly concerned that 'Close the Gap' is going from being a powerful rallying point for social-justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to being a feature of the Rudd spin-cycle that masks Labor's lack of significant action in addressing Indigenous disadvantage.

In a subscriber only article for (so I can't link to it yet), Jon Altman of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research says:
“This Budget is about maintaining the status quo with the hope that economic recovery will see Indigenous re-engagement with the mainstream. This is a limited vision that might in itself not accord with the aspirations of Indigenous Australians. If the goal is to close the gaps, this approach just will not be enough.”
The other sorry-ass problem with the Rudd/Swan budget is that it fails to invest enough in renewable energy and climate change initiatives – but favours carbon industries and initiatives instead.

As The Australia Institute says:
The new solar flagship program is a scheme designed to establish as many as four solar energy projects generating electricity for the national grid with capacity up to 1,000 megawatts. The budget papers admit that that is merely the equivalent of one coal-fired power station. This project should not be sold as anything other than a modest initiative.
I think that's John Hepburn (the whole article is worth reading) says it a lot harder – and more accurately:
Of course, the decision to give another $2billion to support the coal industry is just a political sop to an industry that has the Government over the barrel.
Is this corporate welfare to the coal industry really worth the giant deficit the government is trying to convince us is needed to secure jobs? Surely we need more green jobs, rather than carbon jobs. What worries me is whether the government is going to have us over the barrel soon.

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